Suisham is proud to be an American

Chris Boswell proudly stood with his hand on his heart, watching as his daughter's Sienna, 7, and Stella, 4, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I am so proud of them," said Suisham. "Stella loves to say the Pledge of Allegiance, even before we eat supper at night."

This time, though, it was a bit different. The Suisham girls were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in front of a crowd, cameras rolling, on one of the proudest days of their father's life, the day he became an American citizen.

Suisham, who was born in Canada, took part in a United States Naturalization Ceremony in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, along with 31 other new citizens representing 14 countries.

"To have the opportunity to not just become a citizen, but to reflect on the last 16 years of my life, my entire adult life has been in the United States of America," said Suisham, clutching a small American flag while talking. "I have a wonderful family. This was about family for me. I couldn't stand the thought of ever being separated for any reason from my girls. That was the catalyst for going through this.

"I have been here for my entire adult life. The United States has provided me and my family with a wonderful opportunity and I am extremely grateful for that. Pittsburgh and the United States of America is now our home. It's a special day for me, especially to have my girls and wife here to share it with me."

Suisham's 'American Dream' began when he left Ontario, Canada to attend college at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he would eventually meet his wife Erin. Following college, he signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2005, but was released before the start of his rookie season. He spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins, before returning to the Steelers in 2010 and Pittsburgh soon became home. A home he never wants to leave.

Kicker Shaun Suisham became a United States citizen.

"It's been a long process," said Suisham. "I have been here on a student visa, a professional visa, and then a green card, and after having a green card, for permanent residency you have to wait a certain amount of time to become eligible to apply for citizenship. I reached that point and it was an easy decision for me.

 "It's been wonderful. I had an awesome childhood growing up in Canada and will be forever grateful to Canada for that. The opportunity I have had here, the United States and specifically Pittsburgh, it has become home."

Suisham enjoyed the ceremony along with his fellow new citizens, getting emotional at times, including when a video set to 'America the Beautiful' showed the beauty of America, and when he had the opportunity to speak to the group, and expressed his love for his family.

"I am proud of the man he is, the football player, but more importantly the father he is," said Erin Suisham. "We have been on this journey together. It's important we stay together as a family unit. Knowing that will be cemented today is very important for our family."

Suisham depended on his wife as he studied his history to become a citizen, but his speech today, was all him. It touched on his time in Canada, his love for his family, his love for his new country, and his encouraging words for his fellow new citizens.

"It is my challenge for us all to embrace our newfound citizenship with all of our hearts, minds, and strength," Suisham shared with the crowd. "Let us not be satisfied with being mediocre.

"May we repay our country by conducting ourselves as good spouses, parents, friends and neighbors with an unrelenting desire to elevate our communities and country."

And while the day was serious, he did bring a little laughter to the group in his speech.  

 "While I may never completely understand the word 'yinz' or what a 'yinzer' is," he started, "I have certainly come to love the City of Pittsburgh and all of its sports teams, and more importantly, the United States of America."

There is no doubt, Shaun Suisham is now proud to be an American.

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